Why Glee is a Great Idea but Still Fails

Film & TV
Why Glee is a Great Idea but Still Fails

Glee‘s final season premiered with a two part episode, “Loser Like Me” and “Homecoming.” I hasten to attempt to recap anything that fails to have a plot, so rather than attempting a recap I will just give you all a look at some highs and lows from the episodes that aired. There are many reasons why Glee could have been so right, but, in the end, it always seems to end up so wrong.

To start, let me just say that I like the premise of Glee. On the surface, Glee is a show about kids that don’t fit in, being brought together by a common interest (in this case, music), and accepting one another as friends. It’s a good message. It’s a good idea. Not to mention that with the popularity of music-based television, something like this has the ability to be wildly popular.

The problem with Glee is that it’s over-acted, over-sung, and hastily put-together. The scripts are rushed, while they are fashioned around musical options and choices. While Lea Michele is clearly the star of the show, her feigned hurt and Prima donna supremacy have been overdone for seasons. This is no different, in these first two episodes. We get it. Rachel can sing. Rachel has dreams. Rachel…who cares?!?

Lea is talented, when she doesn’t showboat, which is too rare to notice or recount. She can even act. She proved that when she guest starred in an episode of the last season of Sons of Anarchy, last year. On Glee, though, her overacting is nearly as bad as her showboating! That being said, I am not saying that Michele is the problem, because on a deeper level the blame belongs on the shoulders of Ryan Murphy – the creator of the monstrosity that is Glee. Still, both Lea Michele and her performing cannot be discounted, when discussing why Glee is so terrible.

For a show like this to work, it has to be a group effort. It needs to be an ensemble. In some ways, it is, but the Queen Bee certainly gets the most attention, leaving the more impressive singers as her backdrop. This gives Queenie Michele the attention that she doesn’t seem to deserve.

As for the rest of the group, no one has a personality. They have one trait that makes them stereotypical, and it’s taken to the maximum level, making them caricatures of human beings. The religious kids are all nuts. The political ones are all Tea Partiers. They spout things about welfare states, and racist remarks about the President, fearlessly touting their intolerance to show us how tolerant the kids in Glee are, and how much a safe space, for them, is needed. No one, other than Sue Sylvester, would deny a need for the arts in any education, at least to this extreme, but we will talk about her in a minute.

If Glee would have created a show about some kids in high school that were all brought together because of music, and charted their course to (and through) a singing competition it would have been a good show. If it were started when the kids were Freshman, it could have lasted 4-5 seasons, and ended with them leaving to go to college or off into the real world. Unfortunately, when Murphy opted to follow each character to NYC, or LA, or to college or Wal-Mart, he essentially created the same problems which were created when Beverly Hills, 90210 followed those High Schoolers to college. They overstayed their welcome, and we lost our interest in following these characters around.

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The other major problem with Glee is that it doesn’t know what it is. Is it a really unfunny comedy? What about drama? Musical Variety show? Music Video? Hate Propaganda Video Reel? So many options, but it’s not sure what it is. If you create something and don’t know what it is, how do you expect anyone else to know what it is? It’s a writer’s responsibility to guide the viewer through a story. From there, the audience is able to surmise their own opinions about people and things that happen within the story, but you have to give them a clear vision to travel through. Glee is like someone with no attention span running lost through a forest. There is too much to do, and the show’s incessant running around is just mudding everything up.

So, what about the music? Beyond the episodes with a clear musical theme, it would appear that the writers have a gigantic Hogwarts-esque hat that the song selections fly out of, because the selections couldn’t be more random. At times, the songs fit, but more often than not, they really just miss the mark. Let’s look at a few of this week’s musical selections.

Lea Michele led the pack with the most songs, which is not surprising. The most advertised numbers were “Let it Go” (we knew that was coming!) and “Take on Me,” which mimicked the original A-ha version of the music video. This tactic would have been fine for a YouTube fan video, but the style for a “hit” show left a lot to be desired. “Suddenly Seymour” made little sense in terms of necessity or point to the show. The only thing that turned out halfway decent, and I say that as in, the best of the worst, would have to be the former Cheerios’ rendition of “99 Problems.” What can I say? I’ve always had a soft spot for Santana, but the show still stinks, even if she does rap, in it!

Finally, let’s talk about Sue Sylvester, for just a second. I have a theory that the longer a person works with Ryan Murphy, the more his mediocrity seeps into their talent (Kathy Bates and that horrible Freakshow accent, anyone?). Jane Lynch is a woman of considerable talents. That said, if these first two episodes are any indication of what’s to come, it is going to be like watching a Shakespearean tragedy in a trash can.

Sylvester has never been a fan of Glee or the arts, but Season 6 Sue manages to offend or make disparaging comments about everything, from fat kids to prisoners, and she never hesitates to make a gay slur or 20 in any one of her overly-lengthy, pseudo-passionate monologues. Given the right sarcastic undertone, Sylvester was and could be a terrific anti-Glee club villain. Instead, she’s just a hate-filled caricature of everything that’s wrong with society. She’s not interesting. She’s not funny. She’s just tired, and it’s older now than ever before.

If this is what we have to expect from Glee this season, Murphy should have just hung it up at the end of last season, or better still, ended after season 1 when the show was still moderately palatable.

Ashtyn Law is a freelance writer living in Ohio. Focusing on film, she spends much of her days watching and analyzing film and television and also writing screenplays.

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